Monday 22 January 2018

Review: Jurassic World has undeniably sloppy charm - and it's a roaring, stomping triumph

Ed Power

Ed Power

Jurassic World is everything you expect a summer blockbuster to be – and a little of what you wish the genre wasn't, writes Ed Power.

There are rampaging CGI monsters, annoying kids you secretly want to see eaten, a plot that plumbs the depths of incoherence without it mattering even slightly because Colin Trevorrow's film is really a glorified roller-coaster ride anyway, not a movie in the conventional, coherent-plot-and-dialogue sense. It's deeply flawed and incredibly thrilling and you'll enjoy it despite narrative holes so vast a Brachiosaurus could walk through without having to dip its head.

Mososaur - Jurassic World
Mososaur - Jurassic World

The original Jurassic Park fired the starting pistol on a new kind of tent-pole. Spielberg's shlock opus had moments of humanity – or, at least, of weapons grade gooeyness – but was in the main a carnival of prehistoric bombast, a celebration of spectacle for spectacle's sake.

Ruthlessly appropriating the tone and structure of its predecessor, Jurassic World is similarly loud and busy, though not quite loud and busy enough to distract from a surprisingly meagre dinosaur count.

Indeed, anyone gorging on the deluge of trailers and outtakes flooding the internet in the past six months will already be au fait with a majority of the beasties, once again running amok in a malfunctioning Central American theme park that doubles for a metaphor for self-destructive corporate hubris. There's a T-Rex, an aquatic Mosasaur, endless 'Raptors (yawn) and, most underwhelmingly, genetically modified Uber-saurus Indominus rex.

The last has been trumpeted as the ultimate scary dino – a jaw-dropping laboratory splicing of T-Rex and several mystery predators (you can guess where it gets its high IQ from).

Actors Bryce Dallas Howard (L) and Chris Pratt attend the Universal Pictures'
Actors Bryce Dallas Howard (L) and Chris Pratt attend the Universal Pictures' "Jurassic World" premiere at the Dolby Theatre on June 9, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Actually, Indominus is kind of a snooze – drearily grey, endlessly grumpy and, when push comes to tail-slap, not all that formidable. The cool-as-heck Spinosaurus from (bafflingly maligned) Jurassic Park 3 would have had this guy for brunch.

The humans are pretty blah too. Off-puttingly beefy, Chris Pratt seems to have had his charisma removed via laser surgery since Guardians of The Galaxy. As ex Navy "'Raptor whisperer" Owen Grady all of Pratt's swagger and winking self-awareness is gone, replaced by a stoic pompousness that rests uneasily on his every-dude shoulders. Opposite him Bryce Dallas Howard does well playing theme park operations manager Claire Dearing, a head office-shill apparently on day release from a late '50s disaster movie.

A backslash is already building against Howard's heroine and with justification – she's a starched nincompoop who outruns a T-Rex in heels, strips sweatily to her vest for no good reason and only relaxes when Pratt plants a smacker on her lips.

That's the thing with uppity career gals, the film appears to say. One snog from a bad-boy and they're swooning like a teenager. There are also a pair of annoying adolescents whom you actively wish to meet a sticky end and a bonkers sub-plot featuring military contractors, pet Velociraptors that keep switching sides and… well, it was at this point I quit trying to keep up.

Actress Bryce Dallas Howard attends the Universal Pictures'
Actress Bryce Dallas Howard attends the Universal Pictures' "Jurassic World" premiere at the Dolby Theatre on June 9, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Still, for all its disjointedness and the sometimes disappointing dinosaurs, Jurassic World has an undeniably sloppy charm. Set against its summer rivals – all those deafening superhero orgies, especially – it is practically nuanced in its deployment of special effect and Trevorrow's shameless pastiching of Spielberg just about channels the cheesy magic of the first Jurassic Park.

As is the vogue among the current generation of blockbusters, it feels like the entire point here is to evoke memories of older, better movies. By those admittedly narrow standards, Jurassic World constitutes a roaring, stomping triumph.

Chris Pratt in Jurassic World
Chris Pratt in Jurassic World

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